Nexia New Zealand partner Jane Jackman recently took part in a panel session on ‘Navigating your career’ run by Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand. Following this, she has shared eight top tips for career progression with us.
1. Get qualified
By becoming a Chartered Accountant, you’ll gain a professional qualification that’s highly regarded internationally. It will open doors to jobs in many different organisations, not just professional services because the skills you learn are transferable to other industries. Once you have this, you can further differentiate your skillset to increase your value to potential employers or clients.
2. Find a good mentor
Finding a mentor that you click with can be a great way to advance your career. You can learn from their first-hand experience, and they will often introduce you to connections. I was lucky to have had an incredibly supportive mentor in the early days of my career, who backed me and provided invaluable advice.
3. Grow your network
As they say, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Being well connected means you will have people to turn to for business advice and guidance, it will help you win new clients, and it comes in handy when you’re looking to change roles. Attending events will help you expand your network, as will membership of professional organisations like the Institute of Directors. There are also many online communities where you can share ideas and connect.
4. Prioritise family but keep your hand in
For those of us who choose to have a family, this stage of our careers can become a juggling act as we try and balance work and home commitments. By the time I was 29, I had three children under the age of four! Home life was demanding but I didn’t want to completely put my career on hold so I ‘kept my hand in’ by working part time. I squeezed in work at night or while the children were asleep during the day, and I even worked a twilight shift set up for young CAs with children.
5. Look after your health and wellbeing
Busy, stressful roles can take their toll on your health. It’s so important to step back and make sure you’re looking after yourself – starting with eating a healthy diet, exercising and getting enough sleep. Regular holidays are also key to switching off and re-energising yourself.
6. Make your ambitions known
You may know where you want to go with your career, but does your boss? While hard work is essential, sharing your aspirations at your performance appraisals is even more important. As well as making it known at my annual appraisals that I wanted to progress my career, I knew it was also important to back myself to give my managers the confidence that I had the relevant experience and was capable of going to that next step. Set goals with your management team and develop an action plan to help you work towards those goals.
7. Build your people skills
To really add value from a client’s point of view, you must be good at building strong personal relationships. Empathy is a crucial soft skill to develop. Clients are real people with real lives and I always try to step into their shoes to see things from their perspective before providing a solution. Managing people and partnering with non-finance colleagues are also key areas to gain experience in when progressing your career.
8. Keep on learning
Accountancy as a profession is evolving rapidly. Advances in software mean that accountants now need to be tech savvy. More generally, it is important to keep up with the latest developments and qualifications in your field to ensure that you remain competitive. Being open to change and developing a broad skillset will add to your marketability in an ever-evolving business environment.
Jane is a Business Advisory Partner at Nexia New Zealand's Christchurch office. She specialises in governance, audit and assurance, due diligence and taxation.
Jane has over 30 years’ experience as a Chartered Accountant. She holds a number of governance roles and is a Chartered Member of the Institute of Directors.
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